Bucket List Check | 190. Go to a Drive-In Movie

This week’s date night took us back to the 1950’s under a start-lit sky.

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We headed over to the Silver Moon Drive-In to see The Duff. The original plans were to see Cinderella but we ran out of time so we had to see a later showing. That was fine because it gave us a chance to get a bite to eat at Zaxby’s which is my favorite fast food restaurant besides Taco Bell. We don’t have a Zax close to home so anytime we are out of the area, we always always stop there. It hit the spot, that’s for certain.

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We arrived to the late showing of The Duff slightly early so we waited and got situated while Insurgent was finishing up. We weren’t too invested in the movie considering we still hadn’t seen the first of the series. I actually want to read the books first anyway.

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We had a nice set-up of sleeping bags, pillows, and blankets in the back of my SUV. We were able to back in front and center and lift the back glass part of the hatch to see the projected movie clearly. We even streamed the radio through my honey’s phone so we didn’t have to keep the car running.

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Other than the daunting mosquitoes and the humidity of Florida, it was such a lovely time snuggling up with my husband. Our feet were hanging out the window which is the ultimate movie foot rest.

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I wasn’t taking a photo of the movie itself. Just of our toes in the wind.

I’ve always loved the Silver Moon. It is a very cute establishment that hasn’t lost its age. Jumbo sized “medium” drinks still don’t cost more than five dollars if you get two and you just feel the simplicity all around you.

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I used to love going as a kid with my family and I still love it. I think the drive-in is a perfect date for a brisk fall night. Florida is less brutal that way.

The movie was pretty funny. It was extremely modern obviously and I can see what they say about it being the Mean Girls of this generation. I thought it was a combination of that and Easy A anyway. There were definitely parts that had us laughing but you’ll have to see for yourself!

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Bucket List Check | 183. Go to a stand-up comedy show

I honestly didn’t know what to expect out of this adventure because it was a small and inexpensive one; to be honest, I often find myself questioning if I even have a sense of humor because I take myself and life way too seriously. I have learned to loosen up and let go though. Kind of. We were both exhausted and had a rough week so far, so we didn’t want to go anywhere. However, we both got dressed and dragged ourselves out of the house on a work night.

And boy am I glad we did!

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Kind of dark. It was really hard to get a picture.

If anyone were to ask me right now what my favorite bucket list experience has been as of late, I would say this experience hands down. For the love of Groupon, I’m so glad we went out on this Thursday night. I left with my cheeks hurting from laughing so hard. To just sit there and laugh with my love and not having to worry about anything was one of the greatest feelings. 

I found myself forgetting about all the stresses of the week, not touching my phone, and simply enjoying the presence of my husband and these awesome comedic talents.

Everyone there was laughing it up and having a great time. There were couples on date night, people hooting and hollering, and an entire table of elderly retired folk that were probably laughing louder than us 20-and-30-somethings. (They were the butt of a lot of jokes, all in good fun of course, but they were such great sports even with the flying f-bombs.) There was enough to go around though! Everyone got to experience being poked at.

There were a few comedians before our main guy. There was Jeff Tinevez, the guest comedian, who was pretty funny. He wasn’t on for very long but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Then Jander Gray who was the host but had me laughing from the start and in between all the comedians, especially when he was briefing about cell phone usage and someone’s phone went off.

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And lastly, there was Rick Stepinsky who was also super funny. He got to know everyone in the room asking where we were from and if we had kids. When my husband shook his head no, guess what came next? The automatic question of whether we had cats after being married for almost five years with no kids. I lost it there because we have two. I just couldn’t stop. I was crying from laughing too hard before I even made it five minutes in.

All of them were fantastic. Inappropriate jokes, jokes about us, and people just having a great time.

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Our headliner was Paul Bond and he is a very cool dude. He is hilarious in fact! He told so many funny jokes, made awesome facial expressions that had me rolling with laughter (probably my favorite part), and he sang (quite amazingly at that!) He went through all the different profiles of races and my favorite was “sorta Rican”. He sang different parodies of songs while he played the guitar. He gave us a sample of his Christmas album which is basically all of your favorite classics twisted inappropriately. For the Hispanics in the room, which was one and the one I am married to mind you, the song was a parody of Bailamos by Enrique Iglesias. Instead, it was “by the balls” about marriage and it was sung to one of the older couples who have been married for 45 years. It was hilarious! He wasn’t just making silly jokes which I really like. He actually lightened up situations that people put too much value behind and he made fantastic points about the world needing to laugh more. I really appreciate that he is all for a cause, too. At the end he was selling his humorous CD’s and uses 100% of the proceeds for animals back in New York where he is from. That touched my heart because anyone reading this knows how much I love animals and try to help as often as possible.

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We enjoyed our laughter and presence of good people with a plate of nachos and some drinks. We were at Snapper’s Grill and Comedy Club, so since they were apart of each other, there is a two item minimum. I got a strawberry daiquiri (one of the best I’ve ever had might I add) and my love’s two items counted for a whole pitcher of one of his favorite craft beers. The prices were fantastic so it was very reasonable. As he sipped (and spit out) Jai Alai by Cigar City, he slipped more and more into a drunken state. He was adorable though. It was so cute because there was a moment I thought he got lost or fell in while he was using the bathroom, there he was just chatting it up with Paul, telling him how awesome he was, and even passing out my business cards.

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The happiness we left with was immense. I haven’t seen him laughing or smiling like that in a while. He really enjoyed his time and there’s no greater feeling than a success of its kind. The environment was very relaxed, the people were fun to be around, the comedians were very good at what they do, and the staff was incredible. They are friendly and very attentive. I love what they do and if we don’t end up coming back every Thursday, we will definitely be returning and with friends at that.

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Bucket list check | 24. Go rock climbing

There are just some bucket list adventures I have a hard time with because of my panic-stricken fear of heights. When I was younger, I could ride roller coasters no problem but I would shake if I climbed a tree that was too high. When I am in total control, my legs tend to get weak and shake uncontrollably. When I am not in control, I feel fine as I would being strapped to a machine or in an airplane. It is kind of backwards when you think about it but it is a true story. I won’t be incredibly detailed in this post because of that anxiety that comes with heights.

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This is basically the same thing with the treetop trek we did before ziplining, jumping out of a tree, and climbing the lighthouse in St. Augustine. Even with shaky knees and tears in my eyes, I still manage to have fun and it is all worth it — once I get back down to safe ground.

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look at how scared I was… lol

It was hard to get into an activity that solely relied on your upper body strength to pull you up and your legs to be the foundation of getting you to higher elevations. This was just an indoor rock climbing gym, thank God, but still. I felt like I was way too high.

Once I reached the top to a few that I didn’t really think I could do, I felt accomplished and happy. I’m just glad I have a supportive husband to tell me I can when I’m stuck at the top thinking “Oh my God, I’m never coming down” and thinking of every single way I could get down without having to climb down. I’m now feeling the burn. Oh, I eventually made it back down to the ground because that slide I was imagining for easy access down was never going to appear.

There were little kids out doing me. Like they were fine and it was blowing my mind. Children are fearless. I think at one point I was trying to climb down and I just couldn’t deal anymore so I simply let myself fall. This just makes me laugh now. Now we know I embarrassingly teared up once or twice in fear, haha, but my husband? Oh no, he was definitely in beast mode though. The muscles he built up in the military really helped him because his upper body strength is intense. He climbed high and accomplished heights with no fear. He was inspirational in fact.

Overall, it was fun but pretty scary if you don’t like that heights thing. I liked being able to climb knowing that I was strapped in when we were on the auto-belays. It was nice being able to just drop because you kind of feel like you’re flying, although I was panicky about that at first too. I still had fun with my husband and I still look forward to dates like this. We bouldered, free-climbed, and used the auto belays. I even dropped from a point once I reached the top and I was pretty proud of that.

I am fearless in every other way but nope, sorry, heights are not my thing.

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I made it to the top and got a nice work-out! It all worked out perfectly because we were limited on time. There was an option to do a “quick climb” and they showed us how to use the equipment. It was inexpensive and well worth what we paid. Once I master “mind over matter”, I am going back to own some rocks.

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Double Bucket List Checks | 192. Jump in a trampoline room & 111. Eat from a food truck.

Tampa has a fantastic resource for finding the famous food trucks. There is a website available to look up which are active on which days and where they would be. Today we went on a scavenger hunt to find Tamales and Mexican Food by America’s Disaster Relief at the Cigar City Brewery. With my husband being the craft beer connoisseur he is, I figured it would be a perfect addition to go on one of the tours they offer. So, we did. We walked around the brewery learning about the process that goes into brewing beer with awesome souvenir pint glasses filled with some of the best local beer of Florida. It is world-class in fact. I don’t really like beer but I still think Cigar City puts out some great beers. My husband will swear by Jai-Alai IPA (in fact most would) and I actually liked it for the most part. We tasted Jai-Alai, Hotter Than Hellese, Maduro, and a uncarbonated double IPA. That one was really good. My love managed to snag doubles of each and I am a lightweight who drank on an empty stomach; needless to say we both “accidentally” ended up a little tipsy. It definitely wasn’t even five o’clock yet…

The food truck we specifically wanted to eat at didn’t come until 4 PM so we had a lot of waiting to do. We waited even after finishing everything we wanted to do there and I’m glad we did; it was so worth it! Spanish food is our go-to and we literally eat burritos for nearly every meal. Tamales and Mexican Food by America’s Disaster Relief have fantastic prices, a really friendly staff, and very efficient services. They even have every hot sauce you could think of and that is incredibly helpful for hot sauce nerds like us. As hotheads, we loooove having a variety obviously. The service was extremely quick as well. I think we had our food within five minutes and it was done with quality. Even with how large they are, they didn’t fall apart and get extremely messy (she even gave us tips on how to eat it the best way!) The burritos are giant and so fresh. We had to take half of them home because we were so full halfway into it. My favorite part was the staff. There are two of them: a fantastic chef and a sweet woman. We talked for a few minutes about their future plans, some of the events they attend (even local which we plan on attending to revisit them!), and their offices are somewhat close to us also. I love love the fact that they are one of the only food trucks in Florida based on charity. They are in the running for a big-time food truck cook-off in Texas in a few months. I really hope they win it because they would deserve it.

We also went jumping at the Airheads Trampoline Arena and quickly got reminded of our age. We had to buy some grip socks and redeem our Groupon (oh, that is the best). Then we entered the trampoline area. As there were a bunch of kids literally bouncing off the walls around us, we managed to do so for about ten minutes and had to sit down again. I now realize why they have fitness classes there. Apparently you can burn 1000 calories per hour. We went back out there and jumped together in our own corner. We started run-jumping from the back of the trampoline area all the way to the other side to see how high we could reach the vertical trampoline part. We both jumped on the walls, fell, sat out of breath, I giggled endlessly, and it was all in good fun. I thought I had a lot of photos but I guess I haven’t learned my GoPro just yet. The exposure time was off so I didn’t get many photos that weren’t blurry. However it was a lot of fun being a kid and bouncing around as Tigger would even if we went back and forth between the bleachers and actually jumping. There was a junior jumping section and a dodgeball section which was pretty cool. There were so many cute kids running as fast as they could and jumping. There was a little girl who made my day. She saw where I have Flounder and Sebastian from the Little Mermaid tattooed and thought it was so cute. She talked to me about my entire sleeve and kept feeling the colors. It was the sweetest thing.

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Bucket List Check | 211. Run in a Zombie Run

We wrapped February up with a bang. Literally. Kind of. Well, we didn’t have any guns because that would be a) stupid, b) illegal, but you get the point. After many moments of re-convincing myself to even carry on our plans to run this 5k, I finally decided it would be a good thing and not to chicken out. Zombies smell fear.

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This was my first 5k ever so I didn’t know what to expect. I’m also not a great runner and I had big plans to train with hubbs since we registered a month ahead of time. Well one week turned into four weeks later, and we never actually got to train. In fact we did the total opposite. After a few discussions of attaching leashes to my husband and letting him pull me if I got tired, I decided to just go for it.

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This is also the first adventure we got to fully use the GoPro in water and through motion. I am very pleased with how well this bad boy works. Next time I’ll try that trick to keep rain drops from the lens. I apologize in advance for some of the spots with water.

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We got there and received our t-shirts, bibs, and lined up behind the starting line. My nerves really kicked in at this point. We started jogging and watched for the zombies. Then we started hitting patches that had zombies waiting to grab your flag which were also your life. If they captured all three, you would die. At one point I lost two, sadly within the first mile, but every so often there were recharging stations that you could get water and more flags.

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We went out there as #2359 and #2360 with guns a blazin’. We mostly walked but like I said, no training, and being our first one, this was okay. We finished it in the end and that’s all I was excited about. We really got our running out obviously when the zombies tried to approach us. Since my dear husband is so much faster than I am, he took off in sprints when we entered danger zones. We stuck together the entire time which I’m so thankful for. He also served as a deterrent for me since he was more of a challenge. I had maneuvers but he had speed. One even went way past his zone to chase him because he was so fast. All for a little girl to grab it around the corner.

The zombies were dressed well and their make-up was on point. We saw two sheriffs due to the obvious Walking Dead reference, a few ring leaders, and a few others. I always have this fear of the apocalypse because unlike the rest of the world with their zombie obsession, they kind of freak me out. That was what I feared most. Luckily there weren’t any that I would be especially irrationally afraid of.

My husband on the other hand has an awful bout of clown phobia. To say there was an amazing clown zombie that came out of nowhere and scared him is an understatement. (This clown zombie actually went on to win the best dressed zombie award they held at the end.)

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There was mud EVERYWHERE. It was hard to get through at times because it was deep and slippery. Thankfully the zombies were moved away from these intensely muddy areas or else I’m sure I would have face planted in the mud a few times. Actually, some did. I’m glad it didn’t start really raining until we were closer to finishing. Running from zombies in the rain comes with an increased level of difficulty for those who are visually impaired. Seriously I ended up running blindly without my glasses on during some parts because I just couldn’t see with them on. Neither of us could really see. It’s like trying to drive without windshield wipers in a good ol’ Florida downpour. It doesn’t happen.

It really wasn’t that bad. Minus the fact that the rain was torrential toward the end, we made it out alive! We have these shiny new medals to show for it and I’m excited to start actually training for the next one toward the end of the year (my birthday-ish). We will be so much more prepared and ready for some sunshine this time. Color Run, here we come!

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Bucket List Check | 186. See a foreign film

Brought to you by… pure chance!

I understand how easy it would have been to simply plop down on my couch with my hubby and put Amelie in a DVD player. That would have been a quick tick on the ol’ faithful bucket list. I had bigger plans in mind though.

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There’s a beautiful historic theater in the heart of downtown and this is where I wanted to make memories of the 186th item on my list. I am in love with this theater for many reasons.

The architecture is to die for, maybe literally, because you know… ghosts. As well as a massive organ that comes from the stage, and as I’ve mentioned, the most wondrous deep purple sky that has twinkling stars the entire time your movie, show, or play is on. There is a lingering hint of nostalgia due to taking many elementary school field trips to see a live Peter Pan play. I never forgot how mesmerizing the faux night sky with twinkling stars is.

The theater has been around since 1926 and the second you walk inside, you can tell. From the outdoor kiosk, to the lobby, to the theater itself, you can smell the history. You can’t miss the theater from the outside either – especially at nighttime. Dispersed in the center of skyscrapers, you can be drawn in to the little corner of Tampa with the twinkle of a bright marquee blade sign that shines “Tampa Theater”. There are immeasurable details scattered within the walls, in the balcony, in the ceiling, and on the stage. It is nearly impossible to take it all in. For example, you can find an old-fashioned phone embedded in a column of the wall and guarded by gargoyles.

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The reason I mention ghosts is because the Tampa Theater is regularly apart of Tampa’s ghost tours. The theater can sometimes be eerie but that’s where a lot of the charm comes from and it definitely makes the experience that much better.

They offer many diverse ticket stubs to go in your back pocket. Two years ago, I went to see It’s a Wonderful Life a couple of days before Christmas along with a Christmas series they were showing. Lately they’ve shown 80’s movies, classics, Halloween movies, shorts, holiday classics, and so much more. Then that’s when they happened to throw in a single French film for my liking.

I spent hours on no end for months sporadically checking the website and constantly refreshing in hopes for a foreign film to play. I even emailed the management office and asked when/if they would play another foreign film. A few days ago I made a random instinctual decision to check the showings and to my surprise I saw the words “in French, with English subtitles”. I freaked out in excitement and a bonus for being in French. I am obsessed with French culture and one of my biggest dreams is to go to France. This sprouted from a twinkle in my eye once upon a time ago in my high school French classes. I even remembered some of the words! (Fraises for strawberries, the obvious je t’aime for I love you, and à tout à l’heure).

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The movie we had the pleasure of viewing was an indie flick by the name of Deux jours, une nuit or Two Days, One Night. It was directed by award-winning brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. It was about a woman recovering from a depression and sick leave, fighting for her job upon her return. Her boss figured the company could survive on sixteen employees and they were forced to vote on either her keeping her job or them keeping their bonuses. She had the weekend (hence the title) to visit each one and convince them to choose her on the re-ballot Monday morning. Some of them were jerks, some were kind-hearted souls, but each provided her with a different insight and reaction. Her husband and kids help her and she battles falling back into depression the entire time. They new vote is cast and the outcome is shown with a few twists. In the end, she ends up happy, and that’s all that matters right?

Despite a less than pleasing ending, I had so much fun walking around the dark, empty, red velvet corridors, laughing and looking for ghosts with my favorite person. We sat on the high balcony with one other set of people so we were able to cut up and make jokes without disturbing anyone. We did so and had fun as if we were on a first date. Kissing like we were dating, sharing popcorn and laughing with each other in genuine bliss, with Village Inn on our mind when the movie ended – it easily lands on my list of favorite recent bucket list adventures, even though it wasn’t necessarily a big one.

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Au revoir!

 

 

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Bucket List Check | 104. Go to an Ice Bar

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This year’s Valentine’s Day brought my husband and I to Orlando, Florida. As I was checking prices on the website to gather a plan for the rest of the year, I noticed a Valentine’s package the Ice Bar was offering. Normally expensive, they had an all-inclusive package offering two glasses of champagne, admission, chocolate-covered strawberries, a fur coat for the lady, and a photo-op.

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When we walked in, I was turned around and found myself standing in a floor length fur coat. We headed to the Fire Lounge to redeem our drinks and receive our chocolate-covered strawberries. We were seated at a romantic candle-lit table for two covered in scattered rose petals. The strawberries were delectable and the champagne was particular bubbly. We even snagged a few raspberries and blackberries. Since we were famished, we worked through those berries with a swiftness and after a toast, the bubbly dissipated into the stomach lining of our bodies as well. I received my coat back and we were both handed a pair of gloves to enter the Ice Bar chamber.

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The Ice Bar is basically a big freezer. There are ice benches covered in fur throws to sit down on, a small “VIP” corner where Olaf and a few penguins were just chillin’, and ice sculptures of polar bears and frames for photo ops.

The entire bar and tables were made of ice also which brings me to a funny instance.

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Most of my exploration comes from my mother’s undying love to try new experiences. I always watched every move she made and all the places she went. We used to take family trips to Orlando and stayed in hotels. Sometimes they would leave us (teenagers at the time) while they jet off to cool, new dates to places along International Drive. One in particular was the Ice Bar and I remember the day they came back to the hotel and told us they went without us. My mom didn’t leave out the fact that she set her cup (also made of ice) down, had it slide off the bar and broke. She was offered a new drink but still. I kept that in the back of my mind to be careful of when we went.

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Ever since I vowed to go at least once. At the time I couldn’t really drink and wasn’t allowed in at a certain time, but that didn’t matter. I then vowed to go for my 21st birthday but ended up getting too drunk at CityWalk. When we set the cup down, it ended up sliding fast toward the edge and I knew it was going to fall; there was no saving it at that rate. It fell off the side and as a group of people were passing by, a man inconspicuously set it back on the table and smiled at us. It was comical; however the glass was empty at the time so no harm, no foul.

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So, here we are. A great Valentine opportunity to spend on a date with my husband freezing. The funny thing is that finally after we arrived and made it through the awful traffic and stress of getting there, I was shaking from being so cold outside. When we got inside to even colder temperatures of 22 degrees F, it felt warm outside.

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Anyway, after we took a few pictures, we decided to order a drink just to have the ice cup. I went with the cheapest drink they had because I was not paying fifteen dollars a cup for the normal drinks. We went with the arctic blue drink or something like that. It was still about eleven dollars but it was good and still a part of the experience. We were rebels and decided it would be funny to eat part of the cup and totally did. Another thing we did was lick the ice polar bear… so… we’re just a little unique, but totally made for each other! HAHAH.

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We sat in the VIP cubby area for a bit while we finished our drink, got our picture taken, and then left. It was a pretty cool experience literally and as I consider myself to be a little bit of an “ice princess”, I felt like I was at home, just as I would near an ocean. However, it seems a little expensive for something I expected to be a bit bigger. On an adventurous night, I would probably go back.

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A nice little bonus was that as we were leaving, we got into conversation with the guy outside handing out discounts. He thought our wristbands were cool because he never saw one before and then asked about our GoPro since I had it out taking pictures (considering it was our first adventure since getting it), and I was so impressed with the photos. He then proceed with, “You know what? You guys are cool.” So he reaches in his pocket and pulls out two free drink cards, which was pretty cool, but we didn’t have a chance to go back and redeem them. Traffic was horrid, we had to circle repeatedly to find parking, and our car started acting up. It was still a nice experience in all.

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Bucket List Check | 25. Ride the World’s Largest Slingshot

Just as I mentioned in the Ice Bar post, this year’s Valentine’s Day brought my husband and I to Orlando, Florida. Now, everyone in Orlando sees this and some may even be curious about it, but not everyone stops to see what the fuss is about. I was also really excited because of Celina’s experience with the World’s Largest Sling Shot bucket list experience on ‘My 52-Things’.

Since I had moved this little beauty to my bucket list, I made a vow that I would finally do it. I was going to do it with my step-dad one year for my birthday but he didn’t want to that night or something, I think he was sick, and it was already cold. I don’t remember but anyway, you can only ride if you have one other person with you.

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My husband is terrified of anything that shoots you into the air straight up and heights combined into one lovely package. He will probably never do this with me because it was hard enough getting him to ride Doctor Doom’s Fearfall at Islands of Adventure. He didn’t quite enjoy it either. I felt badly. So, one of my great friends from high school and I got together and decided we would plan a day to do this together. Since we were already going to be in Orlando, she drove the trip to meet me there, because her husband was also never going to do this with her. It was perfect circumstances.

We missed the turn and ended up taking an hour detour for what was only five minutes away without traffic. I’m not kidding and the traffic was horrendous even past midnight when we were going to find food afterward.

I was absolutely terrified. I knew it wouldn’t be too bad but stuck in traffic staring at the ride made me almost want to throw up in anxiety. When we finally arrived, I looked for her and the people she was describing in her text messages. Finally after not seeing me, we realized we weren’t at the same place. I forgot there were actually two slingshots in Orlando, so she drove to me. The worst part is that we planned to be there at 8:30 p.m. and she made it to the first one no problem. Thirty minutes after finding out we weren’t at the same place, we finally met up, and sat in the queue to freak out with each other. This was at 10:30 P.M. due to traffic and a location mix-up.

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We finally loaded up and were pulled down into the base of this “volcano” in a reclined position. Volcano eruption noises start rumbling beneath us and then we shoot up into the air at a force of 3-5 G’s and over 300 feet in the air. As we watched the people, it looked like it was no big deal. When we were actually on it, it definitely did. I didn’t stop screaming and it went really, really high into the air. It flips you a few times, bounces you back up and down at least three or four times, then it stops you in mid-air before they pull you back down. When you watch it, it looks like they’re stopping in mid-air much closer to the ground. I feel like we stopped at the very top and just lingered there.

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I made the decision to wear slippery tights and I seriously felt like I was going to slide out every time we flipped. I remember one point just feeling the top of my thighs hitting the restraint bars and sliding out a little bit, it was so scary, but so worth it! I remember shooting straight into the black sky and finally getting right side up to look out at the city lights brightly lighting the night. It was pure bliss besides the constant screaming and demanding the ride to stop stopping. I talked so much to avoid the nervousness of what we were doing. The video made me laugh although we probably can’t hear anything due to how loud I was screaming. At one point, I didn’t even know which direction we were facing because I couldn’t see the ground or the night horizon. I assume we were going side-ways but that is just crazy.

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We survived and I loved it. We both did and now we’re both hooked. I would definitely do it again.

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Bucket list check | 30. Swim with Manatees

What is the best course of action for one with a four-day cold, with practically no voice and a sore throat/runny nose combo to do?

Why, plummet into seventy-two degree spring water on a very cold and windy day of course!

Although my husband keeps calling me “Tara Reid”, the experience was worth so much more and a thousand words (that I cannot voice).

I am way too excited to sit down and actually type a thousand words though but here goes nothing.

Other than Disney, beaches, and sunshine, the first thing you think of when you hear Florida is manatees! Manatees are possibly described in two ways. A) Mermaids in disguise or b) the most loving, gentle giant sea cows in all the land. One of my favorite aspects about the state we live in are the springs. Usually when the sun is shining, the water is the perfect temperature and absolutely crystal clear. This adventure landed us in Crystal Springs, FL, the home of the only legal place you can interact with the manatees in such a way. Since manatees are endangered creatures, there are guidelines you have to follow in order to participate. This is definitely a bucket list escapade and a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Since these are wild creatures and Florida’s weather is extremely sporadic, you never really know what to expect. The only thing you can go by is the colder it is, the more manatees you will see. We decided to go in January for this reason and this reason only. To add to that, the earlier the better because there are fewer people interacting with them, thus the reason we had to wake up at three-thirty in the morning to make a two-hour drive for a six-fifteen appointment.

It was drizzling the way there so we already knew the weather would be less than desirable. We had less sunshine and the wind was blowing awfully. Once we arrived, we found out by the captains that the docks were underwater but we were still heading out. Our tour guide, Donovan, didn’t know if we were actually going to see manatees because of how weird the conditions were. He was very hopeful for us anyway though. He said the tides were higher than normal for January and that it was very strange. One plus was that the group on our boat had only four people, including us.

Thank God we were in wet suits because it would have been a brutal experience. The wet suits definitely ease the shock of frigid water as you plunge from the side of the boat. We threw on some snorkeling kits and off we went into the cold springs. I was starting to feel discouraged because I already felt like we wouldn’t see any, but then when they started pointing them out, I missed all of them!

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That is until we hit the jackpot and found where they were all migrating to and from near where the spring was fed. You could see manatees sleeping at the bottom of the river and it was delightful in itself. Then they started moving around twenty or so minutes later. They were gracefully floating past us within arm’s reach so we were able to rub them and give them many pets on their large, grey, muddy backs. They were so adorable, especially when they rolled over for you.

In all, there were probably about twenty manatees floating in and out. Most had baby calves tightly knit to their sides and it was the most precious sight you could see from that close.

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He snuck up on me.

At one point, one was coming up as I was floating by and came right up to my face. I was inches away from this creature and it was the most amazing experience. This actually happened twice and I almost got smooched by a sea cow.

Hubbs was swimming and a manatee was swimming up, almost raised him in the water, but he had to move quickly. He got out of its way before he ended up being rolled to the surface with it. He even heard some of the babies squeaking communicating with the mama manatees.

As we were swimming back to the boat in conclusion, a few were coming our way. In order to get my husband out of direct passage, I had to move but it’s kind of hard to do so when you’re in a “dead man’s float” position and cannot kick your feet. He pushed me out of the way and I couldn’t help but laughing. I want to make a point that laughing while snorkeling underwater is not necessarily possible and will make you laugh choke until you can’t breathe. One had to dive under further to go underneath me and it was surreal. I was nervous at first because they are just so big that close up. But just that it was there, swimming directly beneath me, just blew my mind.

It wasn’t the only thing blowing though. Manatees like to come to the surface and pop their adorable noses on the surface for air. I heard a blowing, raspberry noise in the distance and saw that there was a lone manatee blowing water and air out its nose. I found this so comical because there was no one around and there was just random bubbles being blown in a playful way.

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Hubbs’ pictures always come out better.

Also, these kind giants are vegetarians. Since the water levels were so high, people who lived out there had grounds underwater. The water level was up by a few feet and there were no differentiating features from the sea wall and the water. Because of this, there was a manatee just casually chomping on the neighbor’s grass, made possible because of the tides. It was adorable, although I didn’t spend much time watching it eat. I was too focused on petting its rough back.

We froze on the boat way back. The water was tolerable until you got out and had to deal with the wind. Upon arriving at the docks, a heated van greeted us and transported us back to the shop where they offered complimentary hot chocolate to warm us up. We got lucky because they offered us a CD pack for free, typically valued at $24.95, because of the weather.

It didn’t spoil much really and in fact, we still had a blast. I will never forget the time I came face to face with a manatee because he was seeking me out.

I guess besides getting pulled over on the way home (only a warning thank God) and finding out that I lost all the pictures I took on my waterproof camera, it was a pretty wonderful experience. When I found out that the photos I were trying to develop “didn’t come out because the camera malfunctioned”, I was pretty devastated. Precious memories that I will never even see. I’m sure some of them were great, too. After I stopped crying, I finally decided just to chalk it up to bad luck. I really need a GoPro or an action camera that is waterproof and reliable. Adding insult to injury would be the rudest woman at the photo counter at Walgreens and an even ruder customer who decided it would be nice to butt in to something none of his concern. I’ve never told anyone to mind their own business before but this guy was ridiculous; no stranger has ever made me that angry before.

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Bucket list check | 241. Visit a Temple

Through some good friends of ours, we found the Wat Mongkolratanaram Buddhist Temple of Tampa. They would always rave about how great the Sunday Market is and it was on the list, so we had to see for ourselves. We decided to make a lovely brunch for ourselves on a Sunday of perfect weather. The sun was out but it wasn’t hot; the breeze was carefully whispering by.

We accidentally slept in so we had to wait through some lines. It is definitely recommended to go slightly early to beat the long lines of the authentic Thai food. We got an egg roll, guiteow (pork noodle soup), and a potato puff. I also got a Thai fruit juice with floating coconuts. The best part is the extremely cheap prices of the food. For under $15, we ate and got full from food we had never tasted before.

We took our food to a lovely ledge near the water and shared our meal. My husband showed me how to eat soup with a spoon because obviously it was not an easy task for me, so eventually he caved and brought me a fork, haha.

After finishing our meal, we wandered to the temple which is guarded by two grand sculptures of dragons. Additionally, there were gold statues beautifully placed throughout the temple grounds.

We then slipped off our shoes and walked into the temple. Slews of reds and golds dazzled your eyes upon entering. There was a man explaining the history and the practices that go on. There were people getting ready for meditation on the floor. It was just a peaceful experience taking in all of this culture and putting it in my pocket.

Lastly, we walked around the other side of their market where they sell fruit and vegetable trees. I want to return and buy a pomegranate tree and a desert flower tree. They even had citronella trees and many orchids. I was in a purple flower daze.

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Bucket list check | 93. Go Gambling

Now I am one-hundred percent aware of how one could become a regular to a casino. I imagine it is something like smoking one cigarette or getting one tattoo, or having just one Lays potato chip — it just becomes addictive after you experience the thrill and pleasure of the first time. (I’m not saying either are bad. I don’t smoke, but I have an arm full of tattoos as proof that it is so addictive. And potato chips? Well, you can’t have just one.)

We merely went for the experience and set aside a strict amount of money to go with — and not a lot at that. I think I had more fun walking around, looking at the brightly colorful slot machines and memorabilia with my love, than actually watching our bills float away in the metaphorical wind of a hungry machine.

We sat at a few slot machines and let it eat the dollar bills as we pressed buttons here and there. I really didn’t understand what I was doing but we did win a few times. Four out of the five we wandered to, we gave up quickly because we didn’t realize the credits were higher and we weren’t getting as much out. We eventually went full circle and came back to the first slot machine we spent the most time at. It was thrilling going from two dollars to ten dollars, back to almost nothing, and back up again.

Once we got our fill, we wandered the great halls of the Hard Rock and looked at all the divine autographed guitars and outfits worn by the greatest rock icons of our time.

We had fun and it was swell and exciting to experience the slot machines but I don’t believe it’s something we’ll do again unless we’re traveling to Las Vegas and it is a must-do.  For those who enjoy this sort of thing, the Hard Rock is absolutely grand. It is hugely overwhelming with bright lights and chilled out people. The staff is so friendly and they have many games to offer. At least three of the games had mermaids on them!

I was just in awe because I had never been to a place that sold cigarettes in vending machines and where there were ash trays scattered everywhere for those smoking, because that’s totally allowed, too! It was crazy. You can say it was the crazy fun adult version of Chuck E. Cheese where instead of tokens, your money is at stake, and even sometimes one’s livelihood, plus you leave smelling like cigarette smoke. Everything is good in moderation and sometimes that line gets crossed. It can sometimes become a sad addiction, which is why they have a toll-free number for those with a gambling addiction.

I would recommend everyone to do at least once, just to experience responsibly obviously, just to get that thrill of pulling levers to line cherries up, and hearing the chiming of dollar signs.

In all, definitely a fun experience and I’m glad we went. I don’t think that it’s wrong or bad or anything at all whatsoever. Just one and done for us. 🙂

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Bucket list check | 185. See Rocky Horror Picture Show Live

wpid-img_201501114145.jpgI would like to proudly announce that there are no longer any Rocky Horror VIRGINS on this blog!

And now I know where the world goes after midnight Saturday nights in Tampa. Why, they are at the Rocky Horror Picture Show put on by the Cheap Little Punks of course. Never have I had so much fun, so late, being out and about. The incredibly lively show added fabulous excitement to my life from 11:30 P.M. to 2:30 A.M.

For incredibly inexpensive tickets, you can enjoy the experience of a lifetime in the craziest lingerie you can find in your drawers way after the sun goes down. If you have any corsets, be sure to wear it, it amplifies the experience all that much better!wpid-img_2015011152932.jpg

Let me rewind and explain a few things. There is such thing as a RHPS virgin. Usually for first-time goers and quite frankly I took the entire cake home for never even seeing the movie itself. Hubby did, too. As the opener explained, it is a bit of “hazing” for people who never made the time to go to one of the shows. We wanted to share this experience with a dear friend of mine and her husband (C and D), so naturally she texts me beforehand and tells me “oh, the virgin thing is no big deal”. I take it at face value and just focus my energy and excitement on the craziness I was about to undergo.

That’s when we get there, go into a dark theater, and take our seats when she tells me….

“I rat people out and never haven’t done so.”

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Never have I downed an appletini so fast. If I was going to have to go on stage in front of everyone, I was going to be ready, and less sober, haha! They make the call for all virgins to stand up and as smoothly as I tried to get out of it, it didn’t work, for she exposed me of every last bit of virginity in my body (hubby, too!). The cast members saw me and they just weren’t going to accept me sitting back down. After her literally pushing me away from my seat and them convincing me to go because there would be no other chance, finally I marched my high heels to the stage. I’m just glad I wasn’t alone and that my husband was there to share the stage with me. There were quite a few people on stage so we didn’t get picked for the mortifying part.

All we had to do was take part in a gigantic group hug. The chosen ones had to pick their favorite cartoon character and then give their best impression of an orgasm of that character. Between Sonic, Hulk, Optimus Prime, Spongebob, Shaggy,  and the Roadrunner, Optimus Prime won. He even transformed with his hoodie and everything, but it was by far the funniest thing I had ever seen.

So I merely want to thank her for pushing me out of my comfort zone, as it is not something you want to miss, and I’m glad it happened. Even if we didn’t have to answer such questions as “What is the craziest place you’ve had sex at?” in front of so many people. I’m also glad my other half was right there beside me.

After the preliminary virgin ceremony, you go into the disclaimers and rules. There isn’t really any and you can scream “f you” to the rules and literally everyone does. The disclaimer is pretty much to tell everyone who is offended easily to leave in which case the opener asks everyone to scream the worst bad word they know. The guys behind us kept saying “football” in a really weird voice and it was the funniest thing in the world. Not only could they not understand them because it sounded foreign, but they would say it in the worst times. I don’t even know if they were saying the word football. Regardless, it was ridiculous and fun.

The rest of the show is pretty self-explanatory. You have the ability to buy a prop bag that holds miscellaneous items such as gloves, cards, a newspaper, and a party hat to use during the film. Some were to be thrown and some were used to copy what the actors are doing at any given time. For instance, when they are walking in the rain with a newspaper on their head, we are to put it on our head, and it is all in good fun.

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I definitely want to go back when I have seen it by itself and know what to yell during which scenes. Practically the entire movie has scenes where the audience yells funny, dirty, and raunchy lines back at the characters. You’re supposed to yell “slut” every time they say Janet’s name, Bullwinkle during a particular scene with saying Rocky’s name, and even in the beginning where the cast members pretend to climb the narrator’s tie. And most famously, the time warp! I can officially say I danced the time warp at a RHPS show and it was so much fun.

The costumes were fantastic, the actors in drag were a great sight, the dancing was fun and upbeat. Watching the live audience dance, sing, and interact with the audience whilst the film was playing behind them, is an indescribable affair. You really just have to experience it for yourself and you can experience the audience participation of a lifetime.

At one point when Janet starts running around the table in her underwear, you are actually encouraged to run around the room with a bunch of people you in the audience and cast, in your underwear! One chick was even topless and it was just the craziest thing I had ever been to.

 People were drinking, being silly, and just doing their thing, because you really just have to at the show. We surely didn’t do that part, but we threw cards and yelled the little lines we knew to yell.

This will definitely be a repeat and I’m going to find someone who has never gone before to take with us next time, when we memorize the lines a little better, and get a better outfit for the occasion. I will make sure to never break the trend that is menacingly forcing my friends on stage to experience the little skip of a heartbeat I experienced my first time.

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wpid-img_2015011147772.jpgSex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll!

Fooball!

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